Greetings once again, fantasy baseball faithful! I’m back yet again with another edition of the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire and some of last week’s picks came up pretty big. So hopefully you were able to pick up and utilize some of the better player recommendations.
We’re getting to that time of the season where it’s getting down to the wire in terms of the fantasy post-season approaching if you’re in head-to-head league with the playoffs format. So we’re not necessarily just considering pickups for the long term here. Yes, it certainly would be nice if any pickups made will have sustainable success from now through the end of the season, but we also want to be considering some “one and done” players that have a good chance to provide decent results for however long we want to roster them.
Also, outside of many of the players that have already been recommended in each of the last two weeks’ feature articles, the player pool of usable talent that qualifies as a waiver wire recommendation has become rather limited (see qualification requirements below). So we are nearly scraping the bottom of the barrel for some of this week’s recommendations. But before we look at this week’s recommendations, let’s examine how last week’s recommendations have been doing (you can view last week’s full article here).
***NOTE: To qualify as a waiver wire recommendation, a player must be owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and less than 60% of CBS leagues (players typically have higher ownership levels on CBS).
LAST WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
- Khris Davis continues to be an everyday starter for the Brewers. He is just 2 for 19 (.105 AVG) with 4 RBI and 1 SB since last Friday’s recommendation, but both his hits were home runs (and came in the same game). He was recommended as merely a source of power, which he has provided, and he was also recommended with the caveat that his batting average may not get much better than .250. So that analysis looks to be spot on. Although Davis’ ownership level did go up a bit on all platforms, he still remains widely available. Keep looking for home runs out of the Brewers right-handed slugger.
- Welington Castillo has stayed hot over the past week by going 3 for 15 (.200 AVG) with 2 HR and 6 RBI in 4 games played since last Friday. Next to Buster Posey, there really has not been a better fantasy catcher since June 4 when Castillo joined the Diamondbacks, but the window to pick him up in fantasy leagues is closing as his ownership level has increased at least 20% on all major platforms. Hopefully you were able to snag him when he was recommended last week.
- Aaron Hicks must have received a big boost in confidence earlier in the week when Twins top prospect (and top prospect in all of baseball), Byron Buxton, was activated from the DL but optioned to the Minors. Hicks had been roaming center field for the Twins ever since July 3 when Buxton got injured, so there was some question as to what would happen when Buxton was ready to return. Hicks’ strong play has been rewarded and it appears that he will remain a fixture in the Twins starting lineup for the immediate future. Since July 3, Hicks is hitting .322 with 6 HR, 22 RBI, 23 R, and 3 SB while starting all 35 Twins games, and often time hitting at or near the top of the order. Since last Friday, Hicks has gone 10 for 25 (.400 AVG) with 1 HR with 5 RBI and 5 R in 6 games, yet somehow his ownership level has only increased 2-5% across all platforms. Pick him up if he’s still available!
- Odubel Herrera has gone 7 for 28 (.250 AVG) with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, and 2 SB in 6 games since last Friday’s recommendation. Not bad for a player that should be eligible at either (or both) of the shallow fantasy positions of 2B or SS. His ownership level has increased at least 20% across all platforms since last week (likely due to position scarcity) and he continues to produce in a great spot in a Phillies lineup that is surging. Chalk this one down as a winner too.
- Ben Paulsen hasn’t done much since last week with just 4 hits in 19 AB (.211 AVG) and zero power output, but remember that the recommendation of Paulsen was more of a preemptive strike to grab him for the 9-game homestand at Coors Field that begins today where the Rockies are scheduled to face 8 right-handed starting pitchers! The left-handed hitting Paulsen crushes it at home and he does his best work against righties. His ownership has gone up a bit since last week, so perhaps others were prepared for this Rockies homestand as well (or maybe everyone is just reading my articles).
- Jesus Montero has gone 4 for 17 (.235 AVG) with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 2 R in 5 games since last Friday. He’s not setting the world on fire or anything, but the most important thing is that he is collecting starts and being given an opportunity to produce for the Mariners. Montero’s ownership level from last week remains relatively unchanged, but remember that due to his fantasy position of 1B where it is a deep position (or just UTIL in some leagues), he’s only worthy of a look in very deep leagues or AL-only leagues.
- Joe Ross made one start since last week and it came at Los Angeles against the Dodgers who can be a pretty dangerous offense. It ended up being his worst start of the season as he gave up 5 runs in 4.2 innings with an uncharacteristically high walk total of 4. Ross still remains a solid fantasy option, but he would no longer qualify as a waiver wire recommendation here due to his now high CBS ownership level.
- Alex Wilson has not pitched since being recommended last week because of an issue of shoulder fatigue that he was diagnosed with last weekend. This was just poor timing for the Wilson recommendation, and with fellow Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon performing well in Wilson’s absence, this Tigers closer situation has gotten a bit murky, which has left Wilson’s ownership level unchanged from last week. He still should be worthy as an add, but see this week’s recommendations below for more information.
- Carson Smith worked through some recent struggles to have a good week with 3 scoreless appearances with 2 saves since last Friday. Smith certainly is the best option at the back end of the Mariners bullpen, so even though his ownership level went up a little bit over the last week, he’s still owned in less than 50% on all platforms. Smith didn’t work on consecutive days over the last week, and it might be best for him if that trend continues to keep him more fresh as he has already appeared in more games this season than ever before as a professional. Surely still pick him up if you need the saves though.
- Erasmo Ramirez pitched 7 shutout innings with 4 strikeouts against the Braves this week after appearing as a waiver wire recommendation last Friday, but somehow his ownership level in both Yahoo and ESPN has decreased (perhaps just viewed as a streaming option), and it barely rose in CBS. His next start at Houston will definitely be more challenging and it might be a situation to avoid him, but the improvements that he has made this season should be more recognized than they are and he is worthy of being used as more than just a streamer in many leagues. Congratulations if you heeded the advice and picked him up for his brilliant start versus the Braves though!
- Kevin Gausman made two starts since last Friday’s recommendation with one bad start and one decent start. Combined he went 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 12 K/4 BB in 12.2 IP. That’s not exactly what we were hoping for out of him, but I did label him as a fantasy gamble that has inconsistency. The Orioles righty still has the upside though, but it’d be a coin flip to try and continue to score with him in his next start against the red hot Mets.
- Daniel Norris came recommended last week as a “gamble on the upside” pitcher, but he failed to achieve anything of significance with a 7.45 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, and 5 K/3 BB in 9.2 IP in 2 starts since last Friday. Consider this the biggest loser of recommendations from last week, and he will remain a risky proposition from here on out.
THIS WEEK’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Danny Valencia 1B/3B/OF, A’s (Ownership: Yahoo 8%, ESPN 13%, CBS 10%)
Valencia was surprisingly designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after they acquired Ben Revere at the trade deadline, and he was claimed off of waivers by the A’s and they were able to consummate a trade with the Blue Jays on August 3. For most of his career, Valencia has been utilized as a platoon player against left-handed pitching, and he has the ability to fill in at first base, second base, third base, and the corner outfield spots. In his career, Valencia holds a tremendous line of .326/.369/.500 against lefties, but just .234/.270/.377 against righties. So it is pretty easy to see why he’s only received full-time starts in one season out of his career (2011 with the Twins). However, this season, he’s been hitting righties to the tune of .301/.324/.612, which is just as good, if not better, than his line against lefties this season at .317/.378/.488. That’s a vast improvement for the 30-year old, and with the A’s, he has fallen into a situation where he is receiving everyday starts at third base (with Brett Lawrie moving to second base to fill the vacancy left by the A’s trade of Ben Zobrist to the Royals). In the A’s batting order, Valencia has slid right into the cleanup spot to put him in a prime position to produce some runs and that is exactly what he has been doing with a .333 AVG, 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 4 R in 7 games since coming to Oakland. It might have not looked great at first for Valencia moving to Oakland given that the A’s offense is much worse than the Blue Jays and the home park switch is unfavorable, but Valencia appears to be capitalizing on finally being given full time starts. He’s hot right now and needs to be given a chance in fantasy leagues at 3B or OF.
J.T. Realmuto C, Marlins (Ownership: Yahoo 5%, ESPN 7%, CBS 25%)
The rookie Realmuto isn’t a glamorous fantasy catcher, but he has been showing more comfort at the Major League level as the season has progressed and it may have culminated in Wednesday’s game when he had a single, a home run, and 5 RBI in a single inning. For the season, Realmuto is hitting .255 with 7 HR, 35 RBI, 39 R, and 4 SB, but he has collected about half of all his season’s counting stats in the last 23 games as he has hit for a .288 AVG with 4 HR, 16 RBI, 16 R, and 2 SB since July 11. One thing that Realmuto has that most catchers do not have is the ability to steal bases. In the Minor Leagues, Realmuto stole as many 18 bases in a single season, so he definitely has some sneaky stolen base potential that he hasn’t fully tapped into yet. With the potential to go for 15 HR/15 SB, Realmuto will enter the 2016 season as a decent sleeper candidate at catcher, but for now we need to see him finish the season strong and he has been very solid over the second half. You’re not going to want to start him in one-catcher leagues probably, but he’s a must have in 2-catcher leagues.
Chris Coghlan 2B/OF, Cubs (Ownership: Yahoo 4%, ESPN 6%, CBS 18%)
After winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Marlins back in 2009, Coghlan fizzled out before joining the Cubs last season. Last season, he filled the role of an outfielder that started against right-handed pitching and it was a role that he filled nicely and one that he was set to reprise again this year under new manager Joe Maddon. While his batting average isn’t very attractive (.244) and his RBI (25) and runs (38) totals are also low, he has managed to already set a career high in HR (11) and has also reached double digits in SB (11). Overall those numbers aren’t must have in fantasy, but the Cubs have recently undergone a makeover in their lineup that has Coghlan starting at second base instead of the outfield. At second base, Coghlan still may end up taking a seat against left-handed starting pitchers like he has done all season long, but It doesn’t take a fantasy genius to know that players will have more fantasy value at second base. He has already achieved eligibility there in Yahoo and will soon get there in ESPN and CBS. Also an exciting factor is that Maddon has been inserting Coghlan as the everyday #3 hitter over his last 11 starts. Coghlan is surely not the prototypical #3 hitter and he hasn’t exactly been excelling in the role with just a .189 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, and 2 SB in that time span, but just the mere fact that he’s getting the opportunity to hit #3 is a fabulous thing.
Jonathan Schoop 2B/3B, Orioles (Ownership: Yahoo 12%, ESPN 21%, CBS 30%)
Schoop has been decently productive for the Orioles since he returned from the DL on July 5, and in particular he’s been very hot at the dish in August with a .395 AVG. Overall for the season, the Orioles second baseman is batting .297 with 8 HR, 22 RBI, 15 R, and 1 SB in 40 games. Schoop has hit near the bottom of the order for most of his starts, so his RBI and R totals aren’t too impressive, but he was recently bumped up to 6th in the order and that could give him some extra opportunities to produce. Schoop is a bit of a free swinger and isn’t very keen on taking a walk, but his main contribution is the power that he can provide at second base in fantasy leagues (or third base if you so choose). So far this season, he is homering once every 16 AB and he showed some nice pop last season with 16 HR in 137 games. If you need power up the middle in deeper leagues, then Schoop can be the guy, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s been swinging a hot bat.
Derek Dietrich 2B/3B/OF, Marlins (Ownership: Yahoo 1%, ESPN 2%, CBS 4%)
As stated, we are pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel and it doesn’t get much lower ownership than Dietrich’s. Dietrich began seeing starts against right-handed pitching at third base and second base in June as the Marlins endured injuries to Martin Prado and Dee Gordon, but once those players both were healthy, Dietrich was understandably moved to primarily a reserve role despite holding his own. But then in late July, the Marlins decided to give him a chance in left field with Giancarlo Stanton still out and Marcell Ozuna struggling and being optioned to AAA. Stanton was expected to be back in the lineup by now, but his progress in his recovery has gone much slower than originally expected and the Marlins have no real reason to rush him back since they are not in contention. So Dietrich figures to continue to see regular starts for the foreseeable future given that there’s still no timetable on Stanton’s return. Dietrich is hitting .258 with 7 HR in 124 AB and he is the type of hitter that could possibly reach 20 HR in a full season of regular playing time as he has accomplished that feat in two separate professional seasons. The left-handed swinging Dietrich has some holes in his approach with a 23.1% strikeout rate and just a .211 AVG against lefties, but he’s been getting some good contact on the ball with a solid 39.6% hard hit rate. Moreover, Dietrich has been batting in some prime spots in the batting order (anywhere from 2nd to 5th). Not a whole lot should be expected of him, but he could go deep a handful of more times before Stanton returns and that could be useful output out of a multi-position player like he is. There’s also a chance that Dietrich becomes the primary third baseman with Prado being a waiver claim trade candidate this month.
Stephen Piscotty 3B/OF, Cardinals (Ownership: Yahoo 7%, ESPN 12%, CBS 24%)
Piscotty is a former supplemental 1st round pick by the Cardinals form 2012 and he entered the season as one of the organization’s top position prospects. Since being promoted on July 21, Piscotty has been a hitting machine recording a hit in 16 of his 19 starts for an overall AVG of .329. Piscotty has yet to hit a HR or steal a base, but he does have the look of a player that can hit .280 or greater with 15 HR and 10 SB over a full season. He has primarily been playing left field for the Cardinals while Matt Holliday is on the DL for the second time this season. Holliday is nursing a strained hamstring and the Cardinals are “optimistic that he will return before the end of the season.” That doesn’t exactly exude a strong belief that he will return anytime soon, so Piscotty should continue to carry value for a while longer.
Drew Smyly SP, Rays (Ownership: Yahoo 36%, ESPN 17%, CBS 42%)
Smyly had a bit of a breakout season last year and he was off to a great start this season before he came down with a partial tear of the labrum in his pitching shoulder in May. He was expected to miss the remainder of the season, but with a quick recovery and the Rays in the thick of the AL Wildcard race just 1.5 games back, Smyly appears set to rejoin the Rays rotation as soon as this weekend. Smyly definitely wasn’t sharp in his rehab assignment with a 9.64 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, but some rust was to be expected as he just tried to work the kinks out and get to some level of comfort on the mound. However, it is a positive sign that he had 17 strikeouts in 15 innings on the rehab. The rust could possibly carry over to his performance when he does end up rejoining the rotation, as a shoulder injury is not the easiest thing to return from for pitchers. So banking on Smyly to perform at his pre-injury level and 2014 level would not be too intelligent and he remains a risky proposition. But he’s available for the taking in a large percentage of leagues if interested.
Bruce Rondon RP, Tigers (Ownership: Yahoo 7%, ESPN 6%, CBS 12%)
Last week, Alex Wilson was a recommended waiver wire option as he had collected a couple of clean saves for the Tigers after Joakim Soria was traded to the Pirates. However, Wilson has been out for a week with shoulder fatigue and it has been Rondon who has stepped up in his absence to convert two clean saves of his own and he has a 1.80 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 14 K/4 BB in 10 IP over his last 11 appearances. Wilson has pitched well all season long and certainly could succeed in closing out games, but this bout of shoulder fatigue could not have been worse timing for him with Rondon having more long term appeal as a potential and prototypical closer with closing experience in the Minors. At this point, with Rondon viewed more as a closer of the future and his recent success, I would venture to say that Rondon may have overtaken Wilson on the ladder for saves in Detroit. We’ll still have to wait and see, but at the very least, Rondon’s name should definitely be in the mix going forward.
Raisel Iglesias SP/RP, Reds (Ownership: Yahoo 5%, ESPN 8%, CBS 19%)
The 25-year old Cuban rookie pitcher may finally be settling into some sort of groove after enduring some hardships in his first several starts. Over the last 3 starts, he’s had a quality start in each with a 2.89 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 19 K/4 BB in 18.2 IP. The Reds may shut him down early at some point in an effort to limit his workload in his first full season since defecting from Cuba, but he’s going to be someone to watch going forward. He has strikeout appeal with 9.25 K/9 in 59.1 IP this season, and he also has shown some pretty solid control for a rookie with 2.58 BB/9. His next starts will be against the Royals and then the Diamondbacks. Those aren’t exactly the best of matchups, but it still is projected as a 2-start week and he does have some upside, so pick him up at your own risk.
Jean Machi RP, Red Sox (Ownership: Yahoo 23%, ESPN 18%, CBS 12%)
With Koji Uehara landing on the DL and deemed out for the remainder of the season, it was initially believed that Junichi Tazawa would assume closing duties since he had been successful in the role of Uehara’s primary setup man all season long as well as performing well in the last few seasons. However, Red Sox manager Jon Farrell then threw a curveball and said that he preferred to leave Tazawa in a setup role and that Machi would be the leading candidate for saves. Double however, when the first save opportunity arose, it was Tazawa who got the chance after Machi had pitched a clean inning to set him up. Tazawa promptly blew the save to once again throw things for another loop. Tazawa is likely the better bet to do best in the role, but his miscue earlier this week should open the door for Machi to step in since it was Machi who Farrell initially leaned to anyway. Machi was claimed off waivers from the Giants in late July and he was having a pretty bad season, so it’s hard to imagine him succeeding and keeping the role. But hey, might as well give him a shot if you need the saves and there aren’t any better options. But for the record, I have very little confidence in Machi and would also pick up Tazawa.
Sean Doolittle RP, A’s (Ownership: Yahoo 34%, ESPN 19%, CBS 27%)
Doolittle began the season on the DL after being diagnosed with a slight rotator cuff tear in the off-season. He returned from the DL in late May to make one appearance for the A’s, but during that game, as well as his rehab appearances leading up to his activation, Doolittle was topping out at 89 MPH on the radar gun, which was a far cry from the 94 MPH he averaged on his fastball last season. So clearly something wasn’t right and sure enough he landed back on the DL to further rehab his shoulder. He’s made two appearances on his current rehab stint, and in his most recent one on August 11, he gave up a solo home run but struck out the side. Most importantly, he was hitting 92 MPH on the radar gun. It’s no 94 MPH, but much better than 89 MPH. So Doolittle will continue to get some more work in the Minors on a rehab assignment, but it appears he is on track to rejoin the A’s within a couple of weeks. After the A’s traded Tyler Clippard, it’s been Edward Mujica who has been anointed as the closer and he has converted 1 of 2 save opportunities. Mujica isn’t a reliable option to close out games like he was in 2013 for the Cardinals, so it shouldn’t take too long for Doolittle to reclaim his job when he is activated (and he could be reinserted as closer right away). With the velocity looking better, Doolittle should be a fine option.
Chris Bassitt SP/RP, A’s (Ownership: Yahoo 24%, ESPN 27%, CBS 39%)
Bassitt was a right-handed pitching prospect that came over to the A’s in the Jeff Samardzija deal and he has quietly strung together 5 quality starts in a row and hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in any of his 7 starts since being recalled on June 30. He saw brief time with the A’s previously in the season as a relief pitcher, but he’s been used strictly as a starting pitcher since his recall. As a starter, he has just a 1-4 record, but a 2.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 36 K/7 BB in 43.2 IP suggest that he’s deserved better. He is due for some regression and he does probably profile as more of a back end starting pitcher, but he’s hot right now and could maintain that luster for a bit longer in his first tour of the league with upcoming starts against the Orioles, Rays, and Mariners. The Orioles are a team that he dominated two starts ago for 7 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts, and the Rays and Mariners are a couple of the weaker offenses in the American League.
Derek Holland SP, Rangers (Ownership: Yahoo 13%, ESPN 6%, CBS 30%)
Holland is in the same boat as Drew Smyly as he also is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered earlier this season and is currently out on a rehab assignment. Like Smyly, Holland is struggling with run prevention with a 7.71 ERA out on his rehab assignment, but is collecting the whiffs with 11 strikeouts in 7 innings over 2 rehab starts. Holland will make at least one more rehab start and if all goes well then he could rejoin the Rangers rotation after that, but it might be more likely that he makes two more rehab starts and is activated in the last week of August. Great results shouldn’t be expected from Holland right away and he is a risky pickup. But for now, he makes for a fine DL stash and then you can wait and see how he performs in his first start back before deciding what to do with him.